November 14, 2018

Debian is Still the Top Linux

Who's Your Mommy?

  • March 4, 2011
  • By Bruce Byfield
Debian Linux is one of the oldest and largest Linux distributions, and the most successful, spawning a host of derivatives and dominating the Linux universe.

Bruce Byfield

By any standard, Debian is the most influential Linux distribution ever. Not everyone uses Debian, but, both alone and second hand through Ubuntu, it is the source of more derivative distributions than any other.

How influential is Debian? One indication is that three of the four most frequently downloaded distributions on Distrowatch are based on Debian: Ubuntu, Mint, and Debian itself. Together, these three account for 49% of the top ten downloads. Assuming that these downloads are representative of the interest in Linux, just under half of anybody's experience with the operating system comes through Debian or a distro based on Debian.

Or, to give a different metric, of the 323 currently active distributions listed on Distrowatch, 128 are based on Debian, and another 74 on Ubuntu. In other words, just under 63% of all distributions now being developed come ultimately from Debian. By comparison, 50 (15%) are based on Fedora or Red Hat, 28 (9%) on Slackware, and 12 (4%) on Gentoo.

Given these figures, it is not surprising that Debian should have its Derivatives Front Desk and Ubuntu its Derivatives page to track their relationships with other distributions. As incomplete as both these efforts at keeping track currently are, they are still additional proof (if any is needed) of Debian's and Ubuntu's far-reaching influences.

Start scanning the lists of derivatives, and you will find something for everybody, from general purpose deskstops, Live Media, alternative interfaces, netbooks and other platforms to compact installations, localizations, security and privacy, and multimedia. General Purpose Distributions Debian was the last of the major distributions to get a user-friendly installation. To fill this gap, many derivatives sprung up, including Libranet, Stormix, Progeny, Linspire and Corel, all of which became defunct long ago, due to major changes in the Debian Installer and to Ubuntu's basic installer.

Today, the main survivors of these distros are the commercial Xandros, which began with the Corel code and later purchased Linspire's assets, and MEPIS, a KDE-centered distro that continues to advertise itself as simple and easy to use.

These survivors are joined by Linux Mint...Read the rest of Bruce Byfield's Debian story at Datamation.com